We exist in a world of unremitting and (for many people) bewildering change. In his lecture, Malcolm considered the increasing dangers to mental health and sustainable human society from narcissistic pretence, erosion of personal responsibility, escapes into fantasy, and lack of human-friendly settings in which to live and work. Collapse, of one kind or another, inevitably follows hubris – presumptions of limitlessness – and is registered in our bodies as vulnerability. Working with embodied experience is also the opening to our strength – our grounding, resilience, and courage to live fully as human beings in this ‘Age of Vanished Normalcy’, (as termed by Martin Amis).
Malcolm Parlett began reading Freud as a teenager, studied academic psychology for most of his twenties, gave it up in his thirties to become an influential researcher/consultant in education, pursued a new life direction in his forties, and since then has continued to promote, teach, research, practise, question, and enthuse about the Gestalt approach to therapy and personal development, and to other fields of application especially in organisations. He edited the British Gestalt Journal for 15+ years, and has co-founded the Gestalt Psychotherapy and Training Institute in the UK, Gestalt SouthWest, and the Marianne Fry Lectures. He has held visiting professorships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Universities of Surrey and Derby and the Open University; has written numerous papers and chapters; and, a late developer, has growing interests in writing fiction and in acting.